Minister must secure extension of slurry spreading deadline – Smith

– Farmers facing financial woes after extremely wet summer –

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has called on the Agriculture Minister to ensure that the slurry spreading deadline is extended beyond the 15th October.  Farmers across Cavan and Monaghan have been badly affected by heavy rain over the summer months and have been unable to get their slurry spreading completed.
Deputy Smith explained, “I am extremely concerned that Government Ministers don’t fully appreciate the seriousness of this situation.  Earlier this week Minister Damien English appeared to rule out the extension of the deadline, forcing farm families into financial uncertainty.  Farmers in Cavan and Monaghan have had not enough time to recover from this summer’s downpours, with much of the land still waterlogged, and they have been unable to get their slurry spreading completed.
“The Nitrates Directive is an important law to prevent pollution, but it should not penalise farmers who have been unable to spread slurry because of a particularly harsh summer.  There needs to be an element of flexibility – the deadline has been extended before and it should be again.
“Farms in Northern Ireland have been given an exemption once they can provide a reasonable explanation for it – it makes no sense that neighbouring farms, just because they are south of the border, are being prevented from doing the same.  The Minister must act to ensure that these farmers are not unfairly treated.
“In some cases livestock has had to be housed for the better part of the summer and opportunities to spread slurry were extremely limited by poor ground conditions, leaving farmers facing the October 15th deadline with full tanks. I am urging Minister Creed to impress upon Minister Coveney the importance of a deadline extension for these farmers”.

Fresh finance woes for farmers as excise increases on the cards – Smith

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith says farmers could be facing further financial difficulties should a proposed increase in excise on agricultural diesel gets the go ahead.

Deputy Smith made the comments following reports that the Government is considering increasing the excise on agricultural diesel in the next budget.

“Farmers across Cavan and Monaghan have been crippled in recent years due to low prices, market volatility and lack of competition in some sectors. The pressure has only increased over the last 12 months due to poor weather conditions and the fallout associated with Brexit. The end result is that many farmers are already facing severe cash flow problems and are finding it difficult to secure credit from banks,” said Deputy Brendan Smith.

“In the midst of this crisis the Government is seemingly considering increasing the excise duty on agricultural diesel in the Budget. This will only cause further hardship for farmers. The Government should be looking to ease the financial pressure on farming families, not intensify it.

“The upcoming budget must focus on assisting farmers and not compound the problems they already have to deal with. Fianna Fáil is committed to protecting and developing agriculture for the 140,000 farming families across the country. Farmers act as the main driver of the rural economy and this must be recognised in the upcoming budget.

“Minister Noonan needs to firmly rule out this draft proposal to increase excise duty on agriculture diesel. Such an increase will only serve to further increase the strain on farming families,” concluded Deputy Smith.

Fresh finance woes for farmers as excise increases on the cards – Smith

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith says farmers could be facing further financial difficulties should a proposed increase in excise on agricultural diesel gets the go ahead.

Deputy Smith made the comments following reports that the Government is considering increasing the excise on agricultural diesel in the next budget.

“Farmers across Cavan and Monaghan have been crippled in recent years due to low prices, market volatility and lack of competition in some sectors. The pressure has only increased over the last 12 months due to poor weather conditions and the fallout associated with Brexit. The end result is that many farmers are already facing severe cash flow problems and are finding it difficult to secure credit from banks,” said Deputy Brendan Smith.

“In the midst of this crisis the Government is seemingly considering increasing the excise duty on agricultural diesel in the Budget. This will only cause further hardship for farmers. The Government should be looking to ease the financial pressure on farming families, not intensify it.

“The upcoming budget must focus on assisting farmers and not compound the problems they already have to deal with. Fianna Fáil is committed to protecting and developing agriculture for the 140,000 farming families across the country. Farmers act as the main driver of the rural economy and this must be recognised in the upcoming budget.

“Minister Noonan needs to firmly rule out this draft proposal to increase excise duty on agriculture diesel. Such an increase will only serve to further increase the strain on farming families,” concluded Deputy Smith.

New supports needed to protect mushroom industry – Smith

– Impact of Brexit is being felt across the sector –

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has called on the Government to get serious about the fallout from Brexit, and particularly the impact that it’s having on the mushroom industry.  The sector employs hundreds of people in Monaghan and Cavan and is a major economic driver in the region.
Deputy Brendan Smith commented, “The mushroom industry has been badly hit following Britain’s decision to leave the EU and the subsequent currency volatility.  We’ve already seen the loss of 70 jobs in Tipperary as a result of the closure of Schiel and McDonald which cited the Brexit result as a direct factor in its decision to close.  We cannot afford to see this replicated in Monaghan or Cavan.
“90% of all mushrooms grown in Ireland are exported to the UK. The entire industry is hanging on by the skin of its teeth.  Unfortunately the Government has failed to act decisively in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.  Its three months since the referendum result and we are no further down the road.
“I have consistently flagged concerns about the impact of Brexit on this sector through Parliamentary Questions and in other Dáil debates with the Taoiseach, the Finance Minister, the Jobs Minister and the Finance Minister; especially the need to put proper support measures in place for the mushroom sector.  Unfortunately nothing has been done to assist this industry, which has grown considerably over the years.
“Mushroom producers are now extremely vulnerable – they’ve had their margins slashed and the weakness of Sterling against the Euro is making them even less competitive.  The Government cannot continue to take a back seat while the industry fights for survival.
“Fianna Fáil has proposed the use of CAP market support measures to alleviate the pressure on mushroom producers. EU funds have been provided previously for exceptional measures in the dairy and pig meat sectors, and I can see no reason why the mushroom industry cannot be included in these measures.
“Hundreds of jobs are at stake unless tangible action on this issue is taken.  Any hit would have a detrimental impact on the local and wider economy and it is imperative that Minister Creed and his Government counterparts act without delay”.

New supports needed to protect mushroom industry – Smith

– Impact of Brexit is being felt across the sector –

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has called on the Government to get serious about the fallout from Brexit, and particularly the impact that it’s having on the mushroom industry.  The sector employs hundreds of people in Monaghan and Cavan and is a major economic driver in the region.
Deputy Brendan Smith commented, “The mushroom industry has been badly hit following Britain’s decision to leave the EU and the subsequent currency volatility.  We’ve already seen the loss of 70 jobs in Tipperary as a result of the closure of Schiel and McDonald which cited the Brexit result as a direct factor in its decision to close.  We cannot afford to see this replicated in Monaghan or Cavan.
“90% of all mushrooms grown in Ireland are exported to the UK. The entire industry is hanging on by the skin of its teeth.  Unfortunately the Government has failed to act decisively in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.  Its three months since the referendum result and we are no further down the road.
“I have consistently flagged concerns about the impact of Brexit on this sector through Parliamentary Questions and in other Dáil debates with the Taoiseach, the Finance Minister, the Jobs Minister and the Finance Minister; especially the need to put proper support measures in place for the mushroom sector.  Unfortunately nothing has been done to assist this industry, which has grown considerably over the years.
“Mushroom producers are now extremely vulnerable – they’ve had their margins slashed and the weakness of Sterling against the Euro is making them even less competitive.  The Government cannot continue to take a back seat while the industry fights for survival.
“Fianna Fáil has proposed the use of CAP market support measures to alleviate the pressure on mushroom producers. EU funds have been provided previously for exceptional measures in the dairy and pig meat sectors, and I can see no reason why the mushroom industry cannot be included in these measures.
“Hundreds of jobs are at stake unless tangible action on this issue is taken.  Any hit would have a detrimental impact on the local and wider economy and it is imperative that Minister Creed and his Government counterparts act without delay”.

FF calls for doubling of EU aid fund to protect farm incomes

– Government can, and should, match the existing EU funding –

Fianna Fáil is calling on the Agriculture Minister Michael Creed to match the EU’s Agri Solidarity Package by investing €11m for hard pressed farmers.
TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith explained, “This is a very important source of funding for farmers and will help ease the impact of the current price volatility. The package can be used to help with production costs, co-operation projects and certain cash flow reliefs.
“The Minister, should I feel double the fund, via a national 100% top up. This is allowed for in the EU regulations, and will not be a breach of state aid rules.
“Farmers across Cavan and Monaghan are facing severe cash flow difficulties, and massive fluctuations in prices. This top up will provide some assistance for farmers in meeting ongoing costs.
“Most farmers are eligible to apply for this source of funding, and I would call on the Minister to immediately clarify the measures that his Department will make available so that farmers will be able to draw down these vital funds”, he concluded.

Ministers must get their act together on slurry spreading – Smith

– The Taoiseach, Agriculture Minister and Housing Minister giving mixed messages –

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith says the Government needs to urgently clarify the situation regarding slurry spreading for farmers.  Despite repeated calls for the spreading deadline to be extended, the Ministers concerned failed to take any action, and now there is widespread confusion as to whether farmers can apply for exemptions.

“Farmers across Cavan and Monaghan are extremely angry about this current situation.  On the one hand you have the Taoiseach and the Agriculture Minister claiming that individual cases could be examined and facilitated, while on the other hand the Department of Housing, Planning & Local Government is sending memos to County Councils reminding them that the closed season began on the 15th October and that no individualised exemptions have been announced”, explained Deputy Smith.

“This is a ridiculous situation and is leading to increased frustration among farmers.  Not only are they dealing with the fallout from the severe weather this summer, and all the additional problems that that has brought, now they’re unable to get clear answers from the Government about slurry spreading exemptions.

“I have been arguing for farmers to be allowed to put their cases forward for assessment.  Some farmers who have contacted me have almost full slurry tanks and have been unable to spread this summer because of the heavy rainfall.  They’re very worried about what this will mean for their business for next year.

“Ministers Creed and Coveney need to have a discussion and come up with a plan that affords these farmers some degree of flexibility.  Exemptions are being granted in Northern Ireland, and they have been granted here before as well.  This is the only sensible solution and I’m urging the Ministers to act immediately”.